Giant Mirrors Will Illuminate Norwegian Town

Rjukan, with a population of 3500, is installing heliostats to redirect natural light onto the town square during its darkest months

  • Share
  • Read Later
Karl Martin Jakobsen

Newly-installed mirrors on a slope near the Norwegian city of Rjukan will redirect light down into the town square located more than a quarter mile below this winter.

While much of the northeastern U.S. broils in record heat, the southern Norwegian town of Rjukan is making plans to battle the opposite problem: no winter sunlight. Due to its location deep in a valley floor, the industrial town is completely deprived of direct sunlight five months a year. How gloomy.

Instead of wallowing in the dark, however, the city is spending about $835,000 to install three large mirrors on the sides of nearby mountains. The mirrors, known as heliostats, will capture and redirect light rays directly onto the town’s main square. As the Daily Mail reports, a solar-powered sensor tracks the path of the sun and ensures the town is always soaked in natural light. Helicopters installed the mirrors earlier this month, and the first tests will begin in September.

Although The Mirror Project is only now being implemented, the idea has been around for more than a century. Sam Eyde, co-founder of the industrial firm Norsk Hydro, first proposed the idea in 1907 when he built the nearby hydroelectric factory and settled workers in the dark valley. “But at that time, he couldn’t manage it because there was no technology. So he built a cable to bring people up to the sunlight,” Rjukan’s town manager Rune Loedoeen told the Chinese news agency Xinhua. The Krossobanen cable car system began operating in 1928.

106 years later, Eyde’s original proposal is finally coming to fruition. Many residents hope the project will attract more tourists during the winter months, as noted by Xinhua News. The town square, which currently features a parking lot, will be converted into an ice skating rink. Together, the three mirrors will illuminate a circular area covering more than 2000 square feet.

Not surprisingly, other sun-deprived locales beat Rjukan to the punch. In  2006, the village of Viganella in the Italian Alps installed a heliostat using brushed steel as a reflective surface to bathe the mountain village in sunlight.

Here are more images of the Rjukan project:

Solspeilet reflekterer foto Tinn kommune

Tinn Kommune

Sunlight reflected on newly-installed heliostats about a quarter of a mile above the town on Rjukan

TellUs_1236_75_large

Visit Rjukan – The Mirror Project

Rendering of how the the heliostat will redirect light rays onto the Rjukan town square this winter

4 comments
ahmadsafi
ahmadsafi

Has anyone looked at the environmental damage? Migrating birds may get barbecued passing through the concentrated sunlight.


Also kids may inadvertently look at the mirrors and damage their eyes???



MimiSmith
MimiSmith

Having lived in that town, I can say that they do have street lights and all that. =) However, real sunlight is only available on top of the plateau to which you have to take the cable car. These mirrors will offer the inhabitants of Rjukan some sun, and it'll brighten up the days. It really does get very dark over the winter... I remember being in my kitchen and having to crouch down to see beyond the valley wall to see what the sky looked like. =) 

quatra
quatra

Hopefuly the morrors reflect UV light. Now the habitants look like death warmed over.


cpinfl
cpinfl

They spent almost a million dollars to light up a space that is only 2000 square feet? That sounds like a waste of money. They should have just installed some artificial lighting for a few thousand and saved a bundle of money.